Tobacco statistics in Europe

16% of all deaths in adults over 30 in the WHO European Region are due to tobacco, which is one of the highest proportions in the world. This is in contrast to the African or the Eastern Mediterranean Regions, where the proportion is 3% and 7% respectively, and the global average is 12%.

In the Region, 22% of women smoke, which is a higher percentage than in Africa, Asia or the Middle East – all of which come in at around 3–5%. There is also very little difference in the number of smokers between men and women, especially in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In Sweden and Norway, there are actually more women smoking than men and more girls than boys are using tobacco in Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Slovenia.

To read more about tobacco statistics and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on the website.

10 key changes for tobacco products sold in the EU

As a result of EU legislation, there are 10 changes to the way tobacco products can be sold in Europe:

  • Graphic pictorial health warnings will cover 65% of the packaging
  • Ban on cigarettes and roll-your-own with characterising flavours such as menthol that mask the taste and smell of tobacco
  • Labelling will now include the fact that ‘tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer’
  • No promotional or misleading packages and no packs of less than 10 cigarettes
  • Mandatory electronic reporting on ingredients by manufacturers and importers
  • Safety and quality requirements for e-cigarettes
  • Packaging and labelling rules for e-cigarettes
  • Monitoring and reporting of developments related to e-cigarettes
  • EU countries may ban cross-border sales
  • Measures to combat illicit trade

For more information about these 10 changes in tobacco trade on the website

Tobacco control in Slovenia

The Slovenian Health Ministry is proposing to tighten restrictions on tobacco products, in line with new EU rules, and also to introduce new levies to finance smoking prevention. This bill would reflect the new EU tobacco products directive and measures imposed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The draft bill, the first overhaul of tobacco legislation since major limits on sales, advertising and smoking in public were imposed in 2007, seeks to discourage smoking, in particular among young people.

For more information about Slovenian tobacco control legislation on the website.

Vaping suppresses the immune system

The annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington was presented with evidence that vaping suppresses 6 times as many immune genes as smoking. After comparing genetic information swabbed from the noses of smokers, vapers, and non-users of both, researchers found that while smoking suppresses the activity of 53 genes involved in the immune system, vaping suppresses those and another 305.

Though research on the significance of that gene suppression is still ongoing, the initial results suggest that e-cig users may have compromised immune responses, making them potentially more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

To read more about the research findings on the arstechnica website.

Additives in tobacco products

The European Commission and its independent Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) have published their final Opinion on Additives used in tobacco products, identifying those that should be placed on the priority list foreseen in the Tobacco Products Directive.
The SCENIHR identified 48 single chemicals to be placed on the priority list. These compounds were selected because they have or are suspected to have one or more of the following properties:
• toxicity in unburned form (including carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction)
• facilitating inhalation or increasing nicotine uptake, which may contribute to addictiveness
• characterising flavour, one of the factors potentially contributing to attractiveness
• formation of any kind of toxic chemicals after combustion
The full list of additives and details about their selection can be found in the Opinion, on the website

More information about the Tobacco Products Directive on the website

Cardio-vascular disease in Europe

People born in eastern Europe are almost five times more likely to die young due to a heart attack or stroke than those born in western Europe. Since 2000, this disparity in risk of premature death has significantly increased from a fourfold difference at the beginning of the century to the current nearly fivefold difference. These early and preventable deaths due to cardiovascular diseases are the greatest single contributor to the lower life expectancy in the east of Europe compared to the west.

Among the largest contributors to the growing disparity in cardiovascular health are the consumption of tobacco and alcohol and the deficiency of evidence-based interventions at the clinical level.

For more information about cardio-vascular disease in Europe on the website

WHO European Region commits to ‘de-normalising’ tobacco

Ministers of health from the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region have signed up to a roadmap that will make it possible for coming generations to make tobacco a thing of the past.

The roadmap lists the actions with the greatest impact in specific areas. One area involves the denormalization of tobacco, by:

  • enforcing smoke-free legislation, especially in children’s environments, such as schools and child care facilities, private homes and cars carrying children;
  • enforcing comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and working with the entertainment industry on the portrayal of smoking and the placement of tobacco products in the media; and
  • increasing public awareness through educational initiatives to prevent young people from starting to smoke, informing them about the risks of children exposed to second-hand smoke, particularly in cars and homes, and training health care and family support workers to deliver brief interventions for smoking cessation as a routine part of their work.

Scotland has set the goal of creating a generation of young people who do not want to smoke, by “denormalizing” measures, such as smoke-free laws in places where children gather, peer-based prevention programmes for adolescents, targeting parents for cessation and encouraging families to have smoke-free homes.

No government can succeed on its own in banning tobacco, as advertising, illicit trade and trade policies are not limited by geographical borders. Some countries have announced a target year to end tobacco use in their populations: Ireland by 2025, Finland by 2040 and Scotland by 2034. They are paving the way to a tobacco-free future by introducing plain packaging, banning smoking in cars carrying children and aiming for a tobacco-free millennial generation. Reaching this target will demand international cooperation to ensure effective implementation. The roadmap specifies the need for partnerships to make tobacco a thing of the past, closing the gap between countries to reach the common destination.

Download the roadmap from the website

Smoking in cars banned in England and Wales

It is now illegal to smoke in cars and other vehicles if someone under the age of 18 is present. It is also illegal for a driver to not stop someone else smoking in these circumstances and the fine for either offence is £50.

This new law applies to any private vehicle enclosed by a roof, even if the window is open, the air conditioning is on, or the smoker is sitting in the open doorway of the vehicle (presumably when it is stationary!).

The laws don’t apply to e-cigarettes or convertible cars that have the roof completely down.

For more information, click here on